LEBANON — Lebanon High hosted a celebration April 19 marking the installation of artificial turf baseball and softball fields on the campus.
Before the celebration, however, there was a moment of silence for Shelley Garrett, the longtime head of the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re mourning the passing of Shelly Garrett, our Chamber of Commerce president and a real champion of Lebanon,” said Tre Kennedy, who served as one of the primary organizers and fundraisers for the project. “I know how much she wanted to be here tonight.”
Installing the turf fields was exactly the sort of progress Garrett promoted for the community and Kennedy said Garrett was one of the first individuals to make a donation.
“This is a great thing, not only for the teams, but it really is a good thing for Lebanon,” Kennedy said. “A field like this is going to allow us to bring more tournaments, fewer rainouts and bring more people and more tourism and continue to grow Lebanon.”
Lebanon baseball coach Jeff Stolsig thanked Superintendent Bo Yates and Lebanon Community Schools for providing the initial support which made the project possible.
“We want to express our appreciation for the project. It’s such a huge deal, it makes a huge difference for our program,” Stolsig said, adding that Kennedy played an instrumental role in making the turf fields a reality. “Without the persistence and passion of Tre Kennedy this project wouldn’t be done.”
The fields have already proven their worth during this exceptionally wet spring. The artificial turf surface not only reduces the likelihood of rainouts, it also allows teams to practice outside even when the weather is uncooperative.
Installing the turf infields would have cost between $400,000 and $450,000 if all of the work had been done by paid contractors. But with support from the city of Lebanon’s maintenance team, led by Jason Williams, and a wide range of in-kind donations from local businesses, the amount required to fund the project was greatly reduced.
The school district provided $75,000 in funding to get the project started. An additional $95,000 was raised from businesses and private donors and that has covered the cost of the improvements in full, Kennedy said.
“A project like this is not possible without partnerships,” Kennedy said. “We’ve got the city, we’ve got the school district, we’ve got the private sector — businesses — and for Lebanon we’ve also got the Boys & Girls Club. Those are really the key players in Lebanon that make everything happen. Right now, I can tell everyone here that since I got to Lebanon we’ve never had the type of partnership we have among the key players. That really is the key to making things happen. This would not have happened without any of those players.”
Tony and Cammie Bender of Bender Mechanical donated $10,000, as did Entek, Heather McDaniel and the Weyerhaeuser Giving Fund.
The Lebanon Booster Club and Lebanon JBO/Boys & Girls Club each donated $5,000. Garry and Kitty Jones made a $4,000 donation and Linn Gear provided $3,000.
Udell Engineering offered its assistance with surveying, design and project management. The Rick Franklin Corporation provided machinery, trucking and rock.
Drew Briese donated time and concrete in addition to his paid services as part of the project.
Kennedy especially thanked Briese for making the project a priority.
“Biggest deal was getting it done when I needed it so it didn't hold up (the) project,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy thanked Weyerhaeuser Santiam for its support throughout the project. In addition, he thanked Wildish Construction, Knife River, Economy Building Supply and Gateway Imprints for their contributions.
Jeff Garber installed the turf and Ian Smiley created the donor wall.